Health Net/Presented by Maxxis - Amgen Tour of
Ryder Hesjedal and Rory Sutherland co-leaders for the G.C. Tazmanian Karl
Menzies and Brit Russell Downing aim for stages. Nathan O'Neil out with injury.
The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has finalized its roster
for the Amgen Tour of California, February 18-25, 2007.
“We’ve put together a squad the blends overall GC threats with a number of
riders who will be in contention for stage wins nearly every day,” noted team
directeur sportif Jeff Corbett.
In pursuit of the overall title, the team will be lead by former Pro Tour
riders Ryder Hesjedal (Phonak) and Rory Sutherland (Rabobank). “Both of these
guys have ridden at the highest level and tasted success in Europe,” Corbett
said. In 2006, riding for Phonak, Hesjedal finished 4th overall at the Pro Tour
Volta a Cataluña while helping teammate Santiago Botero to 2nd overall.
Sutherland won the best young rider competition en route to 3rd overall at
the 2005 Tour of Denmark. “Both riders are strong climbers and time trialists,”
Corbett added, the necessary combination for a high finish in stage races such
as the Amgen Tour of California.
The remainder of the squad features a host of riders capable of taking out
stage wins from either a bunch sprint or from break-aways. Karl Menzies in
particular is showing good early season form after winning the opening stage of
the UCI 2.HC Tour Down Under in Australia, then holding the leader’s jersey for
three days before relinquishing the overall lead on time bonuses. He finished
“Karl is just strong,” Corbett says. “Along with possessing the pop to win a
sprint, he’s capable of getting over just about any climb on the Tour route.”
Brit Russell Downing also comes into the Tour showing good form, having won
the Boulevard Road Race, a Tour tune-up in Southern California, on February 3.
Gritters in - O’Neill out for AToC
San Diego-area native and resident Kyle Gritters will be taking the
place of Nathan O’Neill on the Amgen Tour of California Roster. O’Neill
sustained a hip injury when he was hit by a motorist while training in his
native Australia just days after winning his record eighth Australian National
Time Trial Championship.
“We’re keeping Nathan off the Tour roster as a precaution,” Corbett said. “We
want to be cautious with his injury and not risk losing him for an entire
season, instead of the first few weeks. While it’s hard to lose a rider of
Nathan’s quality, we’re confident that Hesjedal and Sutherland will be in the
hunt for the overall title. They’re both riding well, and they both have grand
With Gritters, the team adds yet another threat for stage wins. A strong
sprinter and solid all-around rider, Gritters has shown his worth in
international stage races. He was part of the Health Net Presented by Maxxis
team for the Herald Sun Tour in Australia this past October, helping Menzies to
a stage win and defending his leader’s jersey for several stages.
“Kyle has been riding well in the early part of the season,” Corbett said.
“He’ll be an asset for the sprints and he’s definitely a threat in breaks.”
Gritters was enthusiastic about his inclusion on the team’s Amgen Tour of
California roster. “As a California native and resident, I’m excited to be able
to compete in my home state tour, on such a large international stage,” he said.
“I intend to make every effort to help the team to stage wins, and give Ryder
and Rory the best shot at the overall title.”
The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis
for the Amgen Tour of California Roster:
Russell Downing (GBr)
Kyle Gritters (USA)
Ryder Hesjedal (CAN)
Tim Johnson (USA)
Karl Menzies (TAS)
Shawn Milne (USA)
Kirk O’Bee (USA)
Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Riders to Watch
Team Captain: Tim Johnson
For the Overall Title:
For Stage Wins:
Roman Kilun (USA)
Jeff Louder (USA)
For additional information regarding the Team, please visit
About Momentum Sports Group, LLC: The
Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis is in its fifth year of
professional racing. The team is owned and operated by the Momentum Sports
Group, LLC, based in Oakland, California.
Momentum Sports Group is dedicated to the growth and management of sports
and entertainment assets worldwide. Momentum Sports Group, LLC is owned by The
Gekko Group, LLC, a private equity and advisory firm which seeks to extract and
maximize shareholder value, and Cycle Sports, Inc., a boutique bicycle shop
located in Oakland, California, which sells high-end custom road and mountain
frames, parts, accessories and equipment.